3 Secrets To Fill Those Old Hurts With Joy

I have this scar on my calf from a college cycling accident. Neat row of puncture marks where gears pierced my leg when his truck grazed me. He hadn’t seen me. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. But he did, and fifteen years later I still feel the punctures, see their effects. On cold days, they ache a little, and I’ve had to learn how to work through the stiffness.

I have this scar on my heart too. Puncture from years raising a child bounced home to home from her first months. Who landed in my home at 2 years old, but whose heart never stopped bouncing. Every bounce – every tough behavior and personal attack – breaking pieces off mine. She doesn’t notice. She isn’t trying to hurt me. But it hurts. And I’m still learning how to stretch through that pain.

Perhaps you can relate? Maybe not to an adopted foster child and their challenges, but perhaps to another wound that just keeps aching…. again and again?

“He lost his job… again.”
“She belittled me in front of someone… again.”
“They rejected my book proposal… again.”

What is your “again” hurt? Is it with a neighbor? A family member? An employer? Someone at your church? A choice you’ve made yourself?

Are you ready to find ways to stretch through that pain, like you’d learn to do with a physical injury? Here are some tools to do just that:

Lean into gratitude.

Stretch into the pain with an offensive instead of defensive heart. I’ll often head straight into a visit with my daughter thanking God for everything I see, all that went well that day, everything He helped me through since waking. Friends, the list gets LONG when we let ourselves go there instead of the wallowing. When we focus on the pain, the ache grows. When we thank our way through the pain, we have the help we need.

Pray from your strengths. 

Recurring pain requires fresh prayer. None of these “Dear God, please bless me today, and {insert laundry list of action items here}.” Pray from your passion. Let the Spirit intercede for you with heart prayers too deep for your words to conjure. Pray from your strengths. If you’re a get it done person, pray decisive, active prayers based on God’s promises. If you’re a person who inspires others, praise God and pray for life’s circumstances to praise Him too. If you’re a relater, talk to God about your heart and share like you would with a friend at a coffee shop. If you’re strategic and analytical, listen in prayer and find out God’s strategy for that pain – and pray right along those lines.

Stretch your understanding. 

If you tend to read through the Bible in a year, choose a topical or word study instead. Read all the prophetic books. Get a Bible that is organized chronologically instead of traditionally, or pick up the Harmony of the Gospels (that transposes all 4 gospels into a single narrative). Change the way you read about and it will change the way you know God. For me, reading different meant not reading at all, but listening to it instead. All year I’ve been listening through the Bible in a year. It’s made God and his promises so much more vivid for me, especially those that strengthen me in these old wound areas.

When we’re wounded physically, any physical therapist would tell you to practice the exercises and be patient with the healing process. Any physical therapist dealing with someone with chronic pain or recurrent injury would add this: set realistic goals. For chronic pain, it’s less about healing, and more about symptom management and quality of life.

These wounds that recur – these long battles that hurt again and again – require that we re-learn what living is. That we can in fact live in the pain and grief with the same joy (and probably even more!) than we’d have without it. After all, if we believe God’s word at all, we know He made us, He loves us, His plans for us are good and beneficial, and all things work toward good as we live for Him.

Stretch, lean and press into these tools in your “again” wounds. You might be surprised what joy will come of it!

– Laurie

(Photo Source)

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